Like so many Americans, I’m spending a lot of time cussing at the gas pump. These days I run my tank a lot drier; such is the dread of having to fill up that I wait until my gas is an “emergency situation.” It easier to bite the bullet that way. But, if I must search around for the silver lining in all of this, it’s this: while rising gas prices are a field day for some big companies, I suspect it’s also a boon for the small neighborhood shops.
At twenty-six in town and thirty on the freeway, I drive a fairly fuel-efficient car. But here in Northern California, the cheap gas is running $4.50 a gallon. What that means is, to get around town, I’m paying roughly seventeen cents a mile. As we all know, this sucks. Hard.
But let’s look it in practical terms. Say I need some milk. Sure it’s cheaper at the supermarket, but how much cheaper? Luckily my local supermarket’s not far, just one and a half miles away. But it will still cost me fifty cents in gas to buy my milk there. My local convenience store is merely 0.2 miles away. Close enough to walk to, even. And more and more I’m noticing they have a lot of the stuff I need. After all, I can buy my coke’s one at a time. And their coffee isn’t as bad as I remembered.
Six years ago, I didn’t hesitate to run down to Target to get razors. After all, I would always find a few other things to throw into my basket to make it worth—what back then I considered the biggest problem with these big-box stores—waiting in the long line. Except now getting there and back is going to cost me a $1.70. So though I need a new pair of flip-flops, I’m waiting until I have a decent-sized list before I make the big trip. And if I happen to find another pair locally, I’ll just buy them there. That’s whats happened to most of the things that were on my Target list. After all, paying a little more at the Seven-Eleven for razors is not only going to save me time, but in the end money as well.
And, of course, the traditional summer gas inflation is only just kicking in. So by August, I might just be eating microwave hamburgers for dinner and washing them down with a Slurpee.